Ezekiel 44

CHAPTER XLIV

This chapter gives an account of the glory of God having

returned to the temple, 14.

The Jews reproved for suffering idolatrous priests to pollute

it with their ministrations, 5-8.

Ordinances respecting the conduct of the priests, and the

maintenance due to them, 9-31.

NOTES ON CHAP. XLIV

Verse 1. The outward sanctuary] In opposition to the temple

itself, which was the inner sanctuary.

Verse 2. This gate shall be shut] It was not to be opened on

ordinary occasions, nor at all on the week days: but only on the

Sabbaths and the new moons. See the account of the gates (4) in

the explanation of the plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

This verse has been adduced by the Roman Catholics to prove the

perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord; and it may be

allowed to be as much to the purpose as any other that has been

brought to prove this very precarious point, on which no stress

should ever be laid by any man. Mary was a virgin when she brought

forth Jesus.

Verse 5. Mark well, and behold] Take notice of every thing;

register all so fully that thou shalt be able to give the most

minute information to the children of Israel.

Verse 7. The fat and the blood] These never went into common

use; they were wholly offered to God. The blood was poured out;

the fat consumed.

Because of all your abominations.] Several MSS. of Kennicott's

and De Rossi's read their abominations, referring to the strangers

mentioned before.

Verse 10. And the Levites that are gone away far from me] This

refers to the schism of Jeroboam, who, when he set up a new

worship, got as many of the priests and Levites to join him in his

idolatry as he could. These, on the return from the captivity,

should not be permitted to perform the functions of priests in the

new temple; but they might be continued as keepers of all the

charge of the house-be treasurers, guards of the temple, porters,

&c.; see Eze 44:11-15. The whole of these passages refer to the

period of time when the second temple was built.

Verse 16. Come near to my table] To place the shew-bread there,

and to burn incense on the golden altar in the holy of holies.

Verse 17. No wool shall come upon them] The reason is plain;

wool is more apt than linen to contract dirt and breed insects;

linen breeds none; besides, this is a vegetable, and the other an

animal substance. It was an ancient maxim, that whatever was

taken from a dead body was impure in matters of religion, and

should not be permitted to enter into the temple. The Egyptian

priests always wore linen on their bodies, and shoes of matting or

rushes on their feet. The Mohammedans never write the Koran upon

vellum or skin of any kind, as they would consider that as a

defilement.

Verse 20. Neither shall they shave their heads] The priests of

Isis shaved their heads close to the skin; the priests of Budhoo

do so still, their ordinances oblige them to shave their heads

every tenth day. To let the hair grow long would have been

improper; therefore the Lord commands them to poll-cut the hair

short, but not to shave.

Verse 22. Neither shall they take for their wives a widow] This

was prohibited to the high priest only, by Moses, Le 21:13, 14.

Verse 25. And they shall come at no dead person to defile

themselves] Touching the dead defiles a Hindoo now, as it formerly

did a Jew; and they must bathe to become clean again.

Verse 28. I am their inheritance] Those who affect to form their

ecclesiastical matters on the model of the Jewish Church have with

one consent left this out of the question. They will not live on

the free-will offerings of the people; but must have vast

revenues, and these secured to them by law. That every minister of

God should be supported by the altar I grant; but I think, instead

of that method of paying the parochial clergy which I see is so

much objected to, and breeds so much dissension between the

pastors and their flocks, it would be better, on these accounts,

to assign them a portion of land adequate to their supply, or let

the state maintain them as it does its other officers. In Israel

God was their inheritance and their possession; but they had the

breast and shoulder of all sin-offerings and trespass-offerings,

and all dedicated things were theirs; and they had a portion of

all the dough that was prepared for bread. These were considered

as the Lord's property, and these he gave to them; and this is

always implied in the Lord's being their inheritance and their

possession. They had a plentiful support.

Hitherto tithes have been thought the best mode of paying the

clergy, and providing for the poor of each parish; but these

matters have undergone such alterations since the time of their

institution, that some emendation of the system is at present

absolutely necessary.

There should be a public acknowledgment of God in every nation,

and this should be provided for by the state in a way the least

burdensome to the people, that all may rejoice in the benefit.

Happy the nations that have a Bible so correct, and a Liturgy so

pure, as those in the British empire! In such cases, a religion

established by the state is an unutterable blessing to the nation;

only keep it to the Bible, and to the Liturgy, and all, under God,

will be well; but when the sermon is against these, all is bad.

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